THE EGG YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEED – PART II, SALTED YOLK TARTAR SAUCE AND SPICY FISH STICKS
This is Idea No 2 for incorporating what I call the red diamond of foods, salted duck yolk, into your everyday cooking regimen (check the previous post for a new age of carbonara!), and that is, it makes an over-the-top, creamy and decadent base in mayonnaise or aioli which goes on to become thousand different sauces with limitless possibilities.
In this case, an incredibly rich tartar sauce which is worlds away from those pale-assed, loose-fitted watery blah that we’ve gotten too used to to question its legitimacy. This tartar sauce, using cooked then pureed salted duck yolks, has a creamier and velvety mouthfeel with a hidden depth of richness that whispers its secret through its beautiful orange-yellow hue. Yes, this tartar sauce uses 2 extra salted yolks for the amount that’s made (the yolk-to-oil ratio), and you may be inclined to suspect that the difference may simply just be a result of the extra yolks, regardless whether it’s salted or fresh. But I can’t sss this loud enough – salted duck yolks do not taste like plain egg yolks! They just don’t, ok? Does fresh pork belly taste like bacon? Huh? Does milk taste like cheese? Huh? We y’all female homo-sapiens but do I look like Giiiiiisele? Huh? I think you get my point. Do not think of the cooked salted duck yolks as an emulsifying agent such as fresh yolks (no seriously, it will not emulsify with oil because all its moisture has been extracted through the curing process), but think of it more as a seasoning, a salty… oily… and almost nutty flavor that is unique on its own.
Of course, this is a sparkly fuse for you to fire up that imaginative brain of yours, because the possibility is limitless. A herby and garlicky base for your summer potato and pasta salads? A secret weapon for your weekend brunch hollandaise? That burger is never going to taste the same with this added flare, and if you like battered fish… oh my friends, if you like battered fish… Crispy, shattering, and slightly spicy beer battered fish sticks, piping hot out of the fryer to find a pool of cooling and creamy concoction of flavors and textures to wrap their heads around. If that sounds good to you, this is only a start.
AN INCREDIBLY RICH TARTAR SAUCE WHICH IS WORLDS AWAY FROM THOSE PALE-ASSED, LOOSE-FITTED WATERY BLAH THAT WE’VE GOTTEN TOO USED TO TO QUESTION ITS LEGITIMACY
- 2 salted duck eggs, raw or cooked
- 1 fresh egg yolk
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- 1/2 tbsp minced capers
- 1/2 tbsp minced baby cornichons
- 1 tsp caper brine
- 1 tsp tabasco sauce
- salt and ground white pepper to season
- 250~300 grams catfish fillet, or any firm white fish preferred
- 3/4 cup (105 grams) all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for drenching
- 1/4 cup (26 grams) cornstarch or potato starch
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine chili flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup (228 grams) light beer, really cold
- 2 tbsp finely minced herbs, like basil and mint
- canola oil for frying
- MAKE SALTED YOLK TARTAR SAUCE: If using raw salted duck egg, wash clean under water (if they come encased in black salted sand) then place in a small pot and fill with water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 6 min, then transfer into cold water to cool down. If using pre-cooked salted duck eggs, omit this process.
- Crack open the cooked salted egg then scoop out the yolks. Place them into a food-processor or blender, along with fresh egg yolk, garlic and Dijon. Start running while slowly, SLOWLY, pouring 1/2 cup of vegetable oil to form an emulsion. Once all the oil is added, you should have a sauce with mayonnaise consistency. Transfer into a bowl and add minced shallot, minced caper, minced cornichons, caper brine, tabasco sauce. Mix well, then season with salt and about 1/8 tsp of ground white pepper. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or best overnight before serving.
- MAKE SPICY FISH STICKS: Pop your beer in the freezer for a few min while you work. Add enough canola oil into a frying pot until it reaches 2" deep (7 cm), and bring to 340 F/170 C over medium heat. Cut the fish fillet into long strips about 3~4" long (13 cm) and 1/2" (1.5 cm) thick. Season LIGHTLY with a little salt and ground white pepper, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup flour, cornstarch, ground white pepper, baking powder, baking soda, chili flakes and salt. Pour in the cold beer, add the minced herbs, and stir with a fork gently just until it comes into a loose and lumpy batter (lumps are fine. don't overwork it).
- Drench 3~4 pieces of fish in plain flour, pressing the flour into the fish so it sticks well and dusting off excess, then transfer the fishes into the batter. Once the fishes are coated with a thin layer of batter, transfer gently into the frying oil. ADD THE FISH ONE AT A TIME and fry for 10~15 seconds before adding the next, so the batter has crippled up and won't stick together. If the fish is sticking to the bottom of the pot, give it a gentle nudge on the bottom with chopstick to release it.
- Once the fish sticks are golden brown and crispy, drain well and set aside on a cooling rack. Repeat with the rest. Serve immediately with salted yolk tartar sauce.